Shabana Azmi: Book to be written on Mijwan's women
"I have a big paltan with me,' laughs Shabana Azmi, who is set to leave for Mijwan today. The actor, who has been unable to go to the Uttar Pradesh village since the onset of the pandemic last year, will be joined on the trip by brother Baba Azmi, his wife Tanvi and close collaborators at Mijwan Welfare Society, the NGO that works towards empowerment of the girl-child. Azmi has a series of initiatives to oversee during her week-long stay in the village. 'I am travelling to Mijwan after two years, though our work didn't stop during the pandemic. We helped with two lakh vaccinations in UP and distributed 100 tonnes of food grains. [During this trip], Kakul Hai [Delhi University assistant professor] will interact with the villagers to write a book on the women of Mijwan. Neeraj Agarwal [CEO, Rural Shores Skills Academy] will train them in computer skills while MS Sathyu's daughter Shaili is setting up a course in life skills and dramatics. My mother [Shaukat Kaifi] believed theatre played a key role in raising awareness on women's empowerment and social justice. I am excited that Shaili will take forward the work my mother had started.' After the jam-packed week, Azmi will head to Delhi for the shoot of Karan Johar's Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani.
Mijwan always reminds the veteran actor of her late father Kaifi Azmi. Remembering her 2002 trip with him, she says, 'The villagers had surrounded me, wanting me to resolve their problems. Suddenly, Abba left with the driver only to return half an hour later. When I went to his room, he said, 'My villagers are troubling my chidiya. Eat this, and then go out.' I saw that he had gone all the way to Phoolpur to get samosas for me.'